If you love those chewy, rich pralines, the kind that leave your teeth feeling a bit sticky, you’re going to flip over this great recipe. You cook these pralines up in a heavy saucepan. There’s no baking involved!
Can I make Homemade Caramels?
That was the question on my mind as I set out to make these pralines. I wasn’t really thinking “pralines.” I was just thinking “caramels.”
But then it hit me: Turn a simple caramel recipe into pralines. Just add chopped pecans and allow the finished product to set up until it could be cut into pieces.
So, that’s exactly what I did. And y’all. . .I was thrown back to my childhood to those delicious chewy pralines we would buy at the check-out stand at the local Monterey House restaurant.
A Praline is a Praline. . .or is it?
The truth is, there are a couple of different types of pralines. There are the crunchy ones that break into pieces as you bite into them. . .and then there are what I would call the “real” ones.
The real ones are chewy. Rich. Luscious. Sticky. Loaded with pecans. Soft and delectable.
They really are perfect. And now, thanks to this easy recipe, I don’t have to drive anywhere to buy them. I can just whip up a batch on my own stovetop!
Ingredients for Easy Caramel Pecan Pralines
You will find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need. You’ve probably got most of these ingredients in your pantry right now.
- granulated sugar
- sweetened condensed milk
- salted butter
- light corn syrup
- vanilla extract
- chopped pecans
How to Make Homemade Caramel Pralines
Place butter in a heavy medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat until fully melted.
Add sugar and corn syrup. Stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until melted.
Stir in sweetened condensed milk.
Bring sugar mixture to a low boil over medium heat.
Lower heat and place candy thermometer into the pan.
Simmer over low heat until candy thermometer gets to 240 degrees. This will require great patience on your part. (Mine took over thirty minutes.)
Initially you’ll want to give the caramel a stir as it comes to a boil to make sure it dosesn’tstick to the bottom of the pan. After that, however, you’ll want to leave it alone without stirring as much. The goal here is to keep it from splashing up onto the side of the pan.
As I said, this process of caramelization will take time. You’re watching both the temperature on the thermometer and the change in color and texture of the caramel, itself.
It starts out light in color and thin in texture. As that thermometer climbs, however, the color of the caramel will deepen to a lovely amber and the texture will begin to look more like honey.
When your caramel gets to 240 degrees remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans.
Stir well. Allow mixture to cool for several minutes.
Once mixture has thickened and is slightly cooled, scoop onto buttered cookie sheets. (I found this easier than putting them on buttered waxed paper because they stuck to the paper.)
Alternative, you can pour into a buttered a 9×13-inch dish and slice into squares (or cut with a cookie cutter).
Cool completely and allow to set up. I put mine in the fridge for a few minutes to get firm so that I could get them off the cookie sheets a little easier.
Voila! An easy southern candy for even those with the most discriminating taste!
What to Expect from These Southern Pecan Pralines
First of all, these as good—if not better—than any restaurant pralines I’ve ever had. They’re rich, they’re chewy, they’re the perfect level of stickiness. . .they’re absolutely luscious. The gooey caramel, the crunchy pecans. . .what a mergence of flavors!
A friend came over the day after I made them and she absolutely flipped over them. I’ve decided these candies deserve a place of honor on my Christmas Cookie Exchange tray! I’ve also decided to make a candy tray to take to our annual Thanksgiving get-together.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my impatience as the candy thermometer made its s-l-o-w crawl up to 240 (soft ball stage). I thought it would never get there.
I was tempted to turn up the heat but didn’t want to ruin it, so I decided low and slow was the better choice.
Y’all, it was worth the wait. That’s all I can say. These are absolutely delicious. This is one of those easy candy recipes you’re going to make again and again!
Variations to this Pecan Pralines Recipe
I’m thinking of all sorts of things I might do to change these up next time. Here are some of my ideas:
Coat in chocolate. Only one thing is better than a praline and that’s a turtles candy. I have a great recipe for those that starts with caramel bits but this would be another route if you want to go completely from scratch.
Almonds in place of pecans. I would imagine these would be amazing with chopped almonds.
Coconut and chopped macadamia nuts. Tropical pralines, anyone?
Maple. Add a tablespoon of maple flavoring (or pure maple syrup) after cooking. Walnuts would be a great addition to maple pralines.
Want a firmer praline? Let the mixture cook to a slightly higher temperature.
Questions People are Asking about Homemade Pralines
Do I have to put the pralines in a buttered dish? Can’t I drop them onto waxed paper or parchment paper to look like traditional pralines?
Absolutely! But I’m going to suggest you put them directly onto a buttered cookie sheet. I made some on buttered waxed paper and had a hard time peeling the paper off (in spite of the butter). If you make “drop” pralines use a cookie scoop so they are consistent in size.
Can these be made in a microwave?
Yes, but you’ll have to cook them in a microwave safe bowl for a couple minutes on high then lower the temperature to 50% for the rest of the cooking process. They will still take a long time to cook, even in the microwave. Stop every couple minutes to stir and to make sure they’re not boiling over.
Can I wrap these individually to give as gifts?
Absolutely. They’re easier to store if they’re individually wrapped in wax paper squares.
Can I use evaporated milk or heavy cream (heavy whipping cream)?
There are caramel recipes that use those ingredients but I wouldn’t suggest either of them for this particular recipe. The sweetened condensed milk is needed for sweetness, texture, and caramelization.
How long do homemade caramels stay fresh?
If you place them in an airtight container they should stay fresh up to two weeks. There’s no need to refrigerate. They will maintain that lovely caramel-like flavor at room temperature.
Should I use pecan halves or chopped pecans?
It’s your choice. If you’re using the drop method you might want to go with larger pieces of pecan.
Can I use light brown sugar in place of granulated in this pecan praline candy?
Yes, but you might want to go half and half (half white sugar, half light brown)
Can I use this recipe to make praline pecans?
Yes, just double or even triple the amount of pecans in the recipe. You’re looking for more nuts, less caramel in this version.
Are these considered classic southern pralines?
Absolutely! I was born and raised in the south and these are the pralines I remember, for sure.
Can I turn this recipe into a caramel sauce (pecan praline sauce)?
Yes, just stop cooking when the thermometer hits 350 degrees. This sauce is perfect over vanilla ice cream. It’s also perfect as a topping to several of my desserts, like my Caramel Banana Cake. It would also be yummy as an ice cream base! I think it would also be a delicious topping for my Bread Pudding.
Other Homemade Candy from Out of the Box Baking
If you love candy making, I’ve got a lot of homemade candies you’re sure to enjoy. Here are some of my personal favorites:
Easy Chocolate Coconut Balls: If you’re a fan of those yummy Mounds bars you find in the supermarket, you’re going to flip over this simple recipe. These easy Chocolate Coconut Balls as just as good and simple to make!
Traditional English Toffee (Buttercrunch Toffee): It’s light, it’s crunchy, it’s buttery, it’s covered in chocolate nuts. What more could you ask for from a simple English Toffee recipe?
Easy Homemade Turtles Candy: If you love the combination of caramel, chocolate, and pecans, have I got an easy treat for you! These classic Turtles are a no-bake recipe. In fact, they’re easy that the kids can help you!
Easy Peanut Butter Snowballs: If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas candy, one rich with flavor, you’re going to love these delicious snowballs!
Old-Fashioned Divinity: If you love the light, sweet texture and flavor of divinity but you’ve been scared to make it because you think it’s too difficult, think again! This easy recipe comes together with ease. . .and tastes amazing. You’re going to love this southern confection!
If you’re in the mood for something completely different, why not try these Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pecans. You’ll find this easy recipe at Southern Home Express, one of my favorite recipe sites!
That’s it for this post, friends! I hope you enjoyed this tasty recipe! No matter what sweet treats you’re making, I hope your holidays are happy and bright!
See this recipe at
About the Author
Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 sticks salted butter
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- Place butter in a heavy medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat until fully melted.
- Add sugar and corn syrup. Stir until melted.
- Stir in sweetened condensed milk.
- Bring to a low boil over medium heat.
- Lower heat and place candy thermometer into the pan.
- Simmer over low heat until candy thermometer gets to 240 degrees. This will require great patience on your part. (Mine took over thirty minutes.)
- Initially you’ll want to give the caramel a stir as it comes to a boil to make sure it dosesn’tstick to the bottom of the pan. After that, however, you’ll want to leave it alone without stirring as much. The goal here is to keep it from splashing up onto the side of the pan.
- As I said, this process of caramelization will take time. You’re watching both the temperature on the thermometer and the change in color and texture of the caramel, itself.
- It starts out light in color and thin in texture. As that thermometer climbs, however, the color of the caramel will deepen to a lovely amber and the texture will begin to look more like honey.
- When your caramel gets to 240 degrees remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans. Stir well.
- Allow mixture to cool for several minutes.
- Once mixture has thickened and is slightly cooled, scoop onto buttered cookie sheets. (I found this easier than putting them on buttered waxed paper because they stuck to the paper.)
- Alternative, you can pour into a buttered a 9x13-inch dish and slice into squares (or cut with a cookie cutter).
- Cool completely and allow to set up. I put mine in the fridge for a few minutes to get firm so that I could get them off the cookie sheets a little easier.